Details

Biography
Topics
Art & Politics
Education
Media
Native Americans
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Sports
Women & Feminism
Youth/Student Activism

Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) is a Native scholar, writer, blogger, and activist, and is passionate about reframing how the world sees contemporary Native cultures. She is the creator and author of Native Appropriations, a blog discussing cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Native peoples in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture.

Through her writing and activism, Keene questions and problematizes the ways Indigenous peoples are represented, asking for celebrities, large corporations, and designers to consider the ways they incorporate "Native" elements into their work. She is very interested in the way Native peoples are using social and new media to challenge misrepresentations and present counter-narratives that showcase true Native cultures and identities.

Her blog work has been nominated for the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award (2011), as well as featured in many mainstream media outlets.

Adrienne holds a doctorate in Culture, Communities, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on college access for Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) students and the role of precollege access programs in student success. She has worked closely with a non-profit called College Horizons, which assists Native students in the college application process — as a participant, alumna, faculty member, and now researcher.

Her dissertation, entitled "College Pride, Native Pride" and Education for Nation Building: Portraits of Native Students Navigating Freshman Year, is a portraiture study (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1998) that follows four alumni of College Horizons in their transition to college.

Adrienne has presented at colleges and universities nationwide as well as at numerous conferences. Most recently, she was a keynote at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education - NCORE 2015. She is comfortable speaking on topics related to both of her areas of interest—cultural appropriation and representations, as well as Native students’ experiences in the college process.

Testimonials

"Adrienne Keene is a phenomenal voice for social justice, equity and inclusion issues period. Her analyses of the challenges Native students face on campuses and in society-at-large are critically excellent and engaging. Dr. Keene's work and personal story is an important call to action to create supportive campus communities for underserved Native students and to address to the broader issues of racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation. The community of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education enthusiastically appreciated her Keynote Address at NCORE 2015. It was awesome! If you bring her to your campus, you'll see why."

— Justin Lincks, Program Coordinator, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE)

 

"It has been nothing short of phenomenal to watch the growth of Dr. Adrienne Keene’s blog “Native Appropriations.”  The blog has become so popular because Adrienne’s voice and perspective resonate with so many struggling to be heard in a world where we often feel we have no cultural capitol."

— Sedelta Oosahwee, Associate Director, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Office

 

"Dr. Keene's provocative work as the social media activist, educator, and author of Native Appropriations creates critical crucial change in spaces where our Native voice is often silenced. Her ability to articulate complex issues ranging from the Native college experience to cultural appropriation will challenge people's perceptions and offer audiences unique insight into the contemporary Native American experience. I have no doubts that her words will resonate with anybody who has the opportunity to hear her."

— Matika Wilbur, leading Native American photographer, artist and social documentarian in Indian Country
 

"Adrienne was absolutely wonderful! The students really connected with her personally, as well as her work around social justice issues. Our faculty were deeply impressed with her ability to take complex issues and challenge student's thinking. The feedback was overwhelming positive and it was a fantastic visit from start to finish."
 
 Kristie Scanlon, Assistant Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Grand Valley State University, Allendale MI
 
 
Speeches

Native Appropriations, Indigenous Social Media, and Responding to Racism
This presentation also covers cultural appropriation and stereotyping, but pulls in more of the personal story behind Native Appropriations, and the journey of thinking about the blog as a space to challenge racism, and understanding the blog as a space for "consenting to learn in public." I cover the 4 "C"s of the blog: Critical Lens, Contemporary Issues, Community, and Counter-narratives, and the ways each of these play out in the space of Native Appropriations. I also discuss and provide practical advice about handling the deluge of hate mail that can accompany being a woman of color on the internet, and the power of the space to create real change, as well as how a blog can work alongside an academic career path.
 
Native Representations, Pop Culture, and Cultural Resistance in Cyberspace

This presentation delves into the concepts of stereotypes and cultural appropriation, and looks at the ways Native peoples are represented throughout popular culture--from Hollywood to the fashion industry, and discusses the way that Native peoples are pushing back on misrepresentation through social and new media, using case studies from native appropriations about Paul Frank, Urban Outfitters, The Lone Ranger, and more. Audience members will walk away with language and tools of how to talk about the harms of cultural appropriation, but also the best ways to incorporate Native fashion and Native media respectfully.
 
Representations Matter: Serving Native Students in Higher Education
This presentation discusses the experience of Native students in higher education, using my own experiences at Stanford in dealing with mascots and misrepresentations, while providing context and statistics about the invisibility of Native students in college spaces. I make an argument that universities need to ask themselves 4 questions: Whose land are you on? Who are your Native students? How are you recruiting and retaining Native students? and How are Native peoples represented on your campus? as a means to think through the ways schools can better support Native communities and students. I provide research and examples on the ways Native peoples are misrepresented and stereotyped to build a case for why representations matter.
 
Workshops for Native Students/Students of Color on Responding to Campus Racism
Using real life praxis scenarios rooted in Critical Race Theory, students work through how they would respond at multiple levels (interpersonally, institutionally) to instances of racism on campus. They will work in small groups to develop a "game plan" for when such instances occur on their campuses--identifying their allies and support networks, sources of power and leverage, and thinking through possible outcomes and resolutions for these scenarios. Students leave with an understanding of possible ways to approach situations that occur in the varied spaces of a university (dorm, classroom, parties, etc), where and who to turn to when this occurs, how to coalition build with other communities of color on campus, and best courses of action to remedy and move forward.

The Strange Case of the Hipster Headdress: Reclaiming Indigenous Representations
From Hollywood portrayals to invisibility in national conversations on race and inequality, throughout the history of what is currently known as the United States Native peoples have been misrepresented, stereotyped, and erased. But now, through the internet and platforms like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, Indigenous activism around issues of representation and identity have gained traction and visibility. This presentation explores the ways Native peoples have harnessed the power of storytelling through social media to change perceptions, make our communities visible, and tell our own modern, diverse stories in our own voices.
 
Other speech topics include:

  • Native American Mascots and Cultural Appropriation
  • Learning to Lead from Behind a Keyboard: Representations, Activism, and Native Appropriations
  • Cultural Appropriation in Fashion and Pop Culture: What is it and why does it matter?
  • College Pride, Native Pride: Native Student Experiences in College
  • Who's Got Reservations? Media and Its Role in Native America


Dr. Keene is also open to any other topics on Native representations, stereotypes, mascots, social media activism, or cultural appropriation; as well as the experiences of Native students in college environments.

Media